Charge Nurse Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Charge Nurse, or Staff Nurse, is responsible for managing a particular ward in a healthcare facility during their shift. They provide order and delegate tasks among ward nurses. Their duties include admitting and discharging patients, assigning nurses to patients and taking inventory and ordering medical supplies as needed.

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Charge Nurse duties and responsibilities

A Charge Nurse is responsible for many of the same tasks as an RN, but they are also in a supervisory role. Some of their typical duties and responsibilities include:

  • Organizing training seminars and courses to educate new staff or introduce new procedures and protocols
  • Evaluating staff performance and providing corrective measures if necessary
  • Assessing, monitoring and caring for patients
  • Communicating with upper management regarding Nurse performance, staff issues and changes to treatment protocols
  • Creating a yearly budget for nursing staff
  • Performing administrative tasks, such as creating staff schedules and ordering supplies
  • Remaining calm under pressure and be able to quickly and effectively delegate staff responsibilities during busy shifts or emergency situations
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What does a Charge Nurse do?

Charge nurses typically work for hospitals or medical facilities. They coordinate with other nurses and hospital staff to determine organized measures to best care for their patients. Their job is to create shift schedules for ward nurses and act as a point of leadership for a team of healthcare professionals. Charge nurses typically act as a liaison for families of admitted patients, providing them with updates about their loved one’s condition and the methods used for treatment. They may also perform typical nurse duties like administering IVs and medications, changing gauze and feeding patients.

Charge Nurse skills and qualifications

A Charge Nurse uses many patient care skills and soft skills to provide the most comprehensive support to patients, their families and medical staff. These skills and qualifications often include:

  • Expert knowledge of best nursing practices in general and for specific populations, such as children or the elderly
  • In-depth understanding of hospital procedures and protocols
  • Effective and professional communication techniques, including writing and speaking
  • Personable and compassionate personality
  • Excellent critical thinking and quick problem-solving skills
  • Great organization, time management and multitasking abilities
  • Leadership skills, like training, goal-setting and motivation
  • Physically strong and able to work on their feet for long periods of time

Charge Nurse salary expectations

Charge Nurses make an average of $26.13 per hour. This pay rate depends on level of education, experience and geographical location.

Charge Nurse education and training requirements

A Charge Nurse must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an approved nursing program. They must also have passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to be certified to practice as an RN. Certification in emergency measures, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, basic life support measures or advanced cardiac life support are also necessary.

Voluntary certification in specialty areas is a plus, such as pediatrics or emergency care. Some candidates may also be required to have a graduate degree in health services administration.

Charge Nurse experience requirements

Charge Nurses are generally required to have several years of work experience as an RN and a track record of excellent patient care. Previous work experience in a supervisory role is beneficial as well. Many organizations prefer to hire a Charge Nurse who has worked both in general nursing and a specialty area.

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Frequently asked questions about Charge Nurses


What is the difference between a Charge Nurse and a Nurse Manager?

There are subtle differences between Charge Nurses and Nurse Managers. The main difference lies in seniority. While Charge Nurses have the responsibility of leading nurses during their shift, Nurse Managers are responsible for overseeing Charge Nurses and other nursing staff. Nurse Managers also have the responsibility for hiring Registered Nurses and Nursing Assistants to work in a particular ward. 

Further, although Charge Nurses have the authority to take inventory of supplies and place orders for more supplies, the Nurse Manager has the responsibility of setting the budget for how much Charge Nurses can spend within a given time frame on those supplies.


What makes a good Charge Nurse?

A good Charge Nurse combines their nursing experience and desire for leadership to maintain a well-organized ward. They should be able to remain calm under pressure to act as a role model for other nurses during busy or stressful shifts. A good Charge Nurse should also be well-organized and have a proactive mindset. This allows them to maintain a steady inventory of supplies to better treat their patients. Charge Nurses should display a friendly nature to promote a positive work environment and help patients feel well-taken-care-of.


What are the daily duties of a Charge Nurse?

On a typical day, a Charge Nurse begins by reviewing the staff list for their shift. Once everyone has clocked in for their shift, the Charge Nurse lists off the shift assignments for each nurse. During this time, they also make a point to discuss any recent changes to a patient’s condition, so assigned nurses can monitor them closely. Throughout their shift, a Charge Nurse typically remains in the ward’s reception area, admitting and discharging patients. This also gives them time to take inventory of supplies and help other nurses as needed.


What should you look for in a Charge Nurse's resume?

When reviewing potential candidates for a Charge Nurse position, there are a few items you should look for to determine their qualifications. Their resume should display multiple years of experience working as a Registered Nurse. Charge Nurse Resumes should also portray excellent grammar, punctuation and formatting. 

A presentable resume shows a candidate’s ability to write well and organize information in a way that makes it easy to read. This is important as Charge Nurses may be responsible for creating shift schedules and other documents for nurses to review.

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